Professional gaming gave Tom Driscoll a taste for success. Andrew Doherty speaks to the onboard product delivery director for Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand.
From the age of 14, Tom Driscoll showed an entrepreneurial spirit, using his passion for video gaming to compete in professional competitions for cash prizes.
After leaving college, he became self-employed and started building websites for small businesses in his home town of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.
The venture expanded to include events and hospitality, with Driscoll using his newfound skills to run events in bars and clubs, and at music festivals. “I was one of the management team at Q Club in Birmingham. We were the first people to bring Space (the Ibiza club night) out of London,” he recalls.
It was through his first encounter with his sister’s future husband, an executive chef working for Holland America Line, that Driscoll found himself gravitating towards the cruise industry.
“I had come to a hole in my life – I’d been running a nightclub in my hometown for over a year and wanted to move on. The first time I spoke to him [the chef] he planted the seed in my head. I saw on P&O Cruises’ website that they were looking for a digital living presenter so I thought I would go for that.”
Following a six-month stint teaching IT skills to guests, Driscoll was approached by Carnival UK with the proposition of filling a new onboard marketing manager role.
He undertook several projects for Carnival UK, including marketing and communications for the launch of P&O Cruises’ Azura in 2010.
He was also a major stakeholder during the management of the company’s “Pride and Joy” concept, helping to improve the guest experience across the fleet. After working his way up to becoming the hotel operations and retail manager onboard Adonia, Driscoll’s skills were needed elsewhere.
“I was approached to project manage the transformation of P&O Cruises’ Adonia into Fathom Adonia with the goal of bringing social impact cruising to the Dominican Republic and Cuba.”
Driscoll worked closely with his colleagues in the Fathom design team to implement their enhancements onboard the ship.
Following last week’s annoucement that Adonia would be returning to the P&O fleet, Driscoll will continue to work within his current remit until June 2017. The project has come full circle as he has been given the additional task of managing the return of the shop to the P&O fleet.
He’s rarely in one place for long, splitting his time between sailing on Adonia, working in Southampton (where he now lives) and flying to Miami to meet with the ship’s management teams.
He professes his involvement in the Fathom project as a career highlight. “Taking the ship to Cuba with 700 Americans onboard for the first time in over 50 years was phenomenal. Working alongside Arnold Donald, [chief executive, Carnival Corporation] Micky Arison [chairman, Carnival Corporation] and Tara Russell [president of Fathom] to make sure that this was the best cruise Carnival Corporation has ever done was an absolute privilege.”
The Fathom programme will continue to run as a shore excursion for other ships calling at Cuba and also to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.“P&O Cruises’ Azura will be offering a select range of Fathom Impact activities when it calls into this port,” he said.
Once Adonia’s transfer is complete, Driscoll’s journey is set to take yet another course but for now he can only allude to that. With regards to TTG’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders programme, Driscoll is already aware of its benefits; several of his Carnival UK colleagues have been members of previous cohorts.
“I’m looking forward to speaking to big players in the travel industry as a whole.”